Mulling over millennials

Published in FSD Update

Food and beverage product development company, CCD Innovation, has compiled findings from a recent study on Gen Y college students, which the company presented at the Research Chefs Association Annual Expo in March. “We feel this is an extremely influential group,” says Marc Halperin, founder and culinary director of CCD Innovation. “They’re unique because of their social and technological and dining habits. They’re going to have a huge effect on dining in the future and so we wanted to understand what they were eating and why.”

Among a variety of findings, Halperin identified the following as the top five things to know about the eating habits of millennials:

1. They’re nutritionally savvy. “This cohort is so much more vastly knowledgeable about nutrition than frankly [we] ever really imagined,” Halperin says. “We found that these people are very, very knowledgeable. They know what food nutrients do, they know which ones should be avoided and basically how to construct a fairly balanced eating plan for themselves.”

2. They want flavor. “That can be expressed in a lot of different ways,” Halperin explains. “That could be spice—literally heat. It could be expressed as boldness, in other words, in the intensity of the delivery. That [intensity] can be achieved through a mash-up [where] you take one flavor system and you mix it with another flavor system. Now you’ve got a new flavor system, but that new system is highly, highly flavorful, where you can taste an individual ingredient [but] the combination is delivering a unified flavor. But it’s also a multi-layered complexity. Non-American cuisines are far more facile in delivering that kind of high flavor and that’s why there’s an interest in a lot of ethnic [food] groups.”

3. They still connect with comfort. “Not all of the food experience that these kids want is a new experience; they yearn and they cherish comfort food. It’s an extremely stressful time in their lives,” he says. But Halperin is quick to point out that there’s “a new definition of comfort food, and for them it means things like curries and pho [and] Vietnamese comfort food. [It’s] not spaghetti, it’s ramen. It’s not linguini, it’s rice noodles. There is an evolution of the definition of comfort food that has some of the characteristics of the traditional but there are huge twists.”

4. More of them are vegetarian or flexitarian. “There’s just a growing number of vegetarians and flexitarians for a variety of reasons and what we’re also finding is that the foodservices in and off campus are absolutely responding to that,” Halperin says. “These don’t seem to be militant vegetarians or flexitarians. They’re just kids who have found they prefer eating vegetarian for a variety of reasons … and then the flexitarian is being catered to far more gently. It’s not in their face that they’re going to be eating non-meat proteins, but there are many available options that are soft vegetarian.”

5. They are socially conscious. “The interest in local, organic and sustainable plays far more important than it has in the past,” Halperin says. “And these kids are very, very serious about it. It’s not just fad, a passing fad, and then after they graduate college they’re going to get serious. We really believe this consciousness is going to follow them throughout their lives. Therefore there’s going to be an effect on what they eat and what they search out.”

More From FoodService Director

Sponsored Content
vegetables with dip foodservice healthy menu

From Mrs. Dash Foodservice.

There was a time when healthy food meant counting calories, omitting carbs, giving up sugar and going fat-free—in other words, it was all about deprivation.

But not anymore. Today’s definition of healthy means an overall focus on nutrition and wellness that doesn’t mean giving up enjoyment. It’s all about balance: good fats, healthy carbs, better sweeteners, wholesome ingredients and satisfying flavor enhancements. It means food that customers can feel good about, at the same time that they’re enjoying the dining experience.

According to...

Industry News & Opinion

Aramark today announced a partnership with celebrity chef and TV personality Cat Cora that will put a new concept from the Top Chef star in Aramark’s North American business-and-industry accounts.

The new fast-casual concept, called Olilo by Cat Cora, promises a healthy, made-your-way menu, according to the global foodservice provider.

“By bringing together Chef Cora's award-winning brand and healthy cooking advocacy and Aramark's commitment to enriching and nourishing the lives of the thousands of consumers we serve every day, we have an opportunity to elevate the on-site...

Industry News & Opinion

Members of Congress and several advocacy groups gathered on Capitol Hill on Wednesday to highlight the potential loss of millions in state funding because of a Child Nutrition Reauthorization block grant introduced last month, and to call upon legislators to squash the bill.

The Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016 houses a statute that would provide three unannounced pilot states with block grant funding. Participating states would be exempt from federal nutrition regulations and would no longer qualify for the 6-cent reimbursement per lunch garnered by certified...

Managing Your Business
chicken tenders

The outcry was immediate when Yale University slashed chicken tenders from dining hall menus in 2008. Yale had just brought its dining services in-house with a new focus on sustainable food, and processed chicken strips were simply out of sync with that philosophy. But students were outraged, launching protests and convincing their parents to call and complain.

Yale Hospitality Associate Vice President Rafi Taherian gave in. “He said, OK, if we’re going to have chicken tenders, which clearly we must, then we’re going to have the best gosh darn chicken tenders in town,” says Cathy...

FSD Resources